Indira Gandhi and Lee Kuan Yew

  Singapore's Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew is compared to Indira Gandhi by the Indian journalist, Sunanda Datta-Ray, who once worked for The Straits Times. In his book, Looking East to Look West, exploring India-Singapore relations, based on his interviews with MM Lee, he writes: Lee and Indira Gandhi shared a brutal commitment to power, […]

Paul Theroux on Kali and Calcutta

In A Dead Hand: A Crime in Calcutta, Paul Theroux describes an animal sacrifice at the Kali temple in Kalighat. A goat, garlanded with flowers, is led bleating into a walled enclosure to the beat of drums. Once inside, the terrified creature is thrust between two upright stakes and caressed by a barefoot priest, who […]

Kipling, race and religion

The uproar in Singapore against Pastor Rony Tan, who was questioned by the authorities and had to apologize for mocking the religious beliefs of Buddhists and Taoists, reminds me of the controversy surrounding a famous writer. Rudyard Kipling was born in Mumbai, in the JJ School of Art, where his father was the dean. The […]

Will A Suitable Girl be as good as The Glass Palace?

The news that Vikram Seth (left) is writing a sequel to A Suitable Boy, my favourite novel, had me reaching for another book I love: The Glass Palace by Amitav Ghosh (below). What set me off was an interview Seth gave to The Hindu newspaper in India. The sequel, A Suitable Girl, will be set […]

Incredible India: Through a newsman’s eyes

India is an unlikely economic giant. The vast majority of its people don't even have steady jobs, points out Edward Luce in his insightful book on India. Fewer than 40 million of its 470 million workforce are employed in the "organized sector", which offers job protection and other benefits. The government and the public sector […]

An absorbing history of India since independence

India After Gandhi: The History Of The World's Largest Democracy by Ramachandra Guha Ramachandra Guha's India After Gandhi: The History Of The World's Largest Democracy is a riveting account of India since independence  in 1947.  The narrative never flags. Historical figures are brought to life and history re-enacted in its pages. It makes you appreciate […]

Paul Theroux revisits Asia

Ghost Train To The Eastern Star by Paul Theroux Paul Theroux has written an immensely readable sequel to The Great Railway Bazaar, repeating that railway journey from Europe to Asia and back which earned him fame and fortune more than 30 years ago. It is bursting with people and places, rich in indelible portraits. I […]

Short stories that add up to a novel

Tales from Firozsha Baag by Rohinton Mistry Tales from Firozsha Baag is a charming collection of short stories – and unusual too. Published in 1987, Rohinton Mistry’s first book describes an India I remember all too well. An India where it took years to get a telephone, months to get a refrigerator. Now even slum […]

Second Indian Booker winner in three years

The award for the best English novel by a writer from any country except America goes to… an Indian for the second time in three years! Aravind Adiga has won the 2008 Man Booker Prize worth 50,000 pounds ($87,000) for Commonwealth writers for his novel, The White Tiger, set in India. Indian Kiran Desai won […]

Britain and Pakistan

The Shadow Of The Great Game: The Untold Story Of India’s Partition by Narendra Singh Sarila Tony Blair had to go because his Iraq policy proved deeply unpopular. We have read how Britons disapprove of their military presence in Iraq. But he was only pursuing traditional British policy. The Middle East matters so much to […]